|“We did get something, a gift, after the election… It was a little cocker spaniel… our little girl, Tricia, the six-year-old, named it Checkers… I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we’re gonna keep it.”
(Los Angeles, California,
Senator Richard M. Nixon of California, the Republican candidate for the vice presidency, appeared on national television to defend himself against reports that he had kept a “secret fund” of $18,000 to underwrite his political expenses as senator.
This comes years before he would be dubbed “Tricky Dicky.”
Nixon claimed the fund was used for normal politcal expenses, and Eisenhower stood by him. The only political “gift” he received was this cocker spaniel, Checkers. Thus the nationally televised address in which Nixon proclaimed his innocence was dubbed the “Checkers” speech.
Over the years, there would be many more Nixon protestations of innocence. “I am not a crook,” became a virtual epitaph for the Watergate scandal that toppled his presidency.